Substance addiction recovery is a process of change through which individuals achieve abstinence and improved health, wellness and quality of life. In addition, change involves becoming self-directed, managing one’s emotions, thinking and behaviors in a responsible manner. It also means losing selfish perspective and becoming more other-oriented, as well as incorporating values into one’s life such as honesty, integrity, making amends to those one has harmed, and willingness to strive for progress.
Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) was founded in 1935 as a 12 step recovery program designed to help alcoholics get sober and maintain abstinence from alcohol. The program is a design for living without drinking through the use of 12 steps, which starts with admitting one’s powerlessness over alcohol and the need for support from a “Higher Power” be it the overall A.A program, a home group that one regularly attends, the fellowship of recovering alcoholics, a sponsor who helps the newcomer to go through the steps or a spiritual entity such as God, Mother Nature, the power of the Universe, or a combination of these.
There are some people who have been able to quit drinking alcohol or using drugs with the sole help of 12 step recovery programs such as A.A. or N.A. However, research shows us that far more alcoholics and addicts need to complete an episode (or repeated episodes) of inpatient or outpatient treatment to be successful at maintaining sobriety for any length of time. In fact, it is widely recommended by addiction treatment specialists, for alcoholics and addicts to continue a lifelong journey of recovery through 12 step programs after they have completed treatment.
The following is a list of the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous:
- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- We’re entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
- Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.